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Sweet Songs of Zion Hardcover – 20 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; 1st edition edition (20 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340943769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340943762
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 3.1 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Invaluable . . . a new and vital contribution, essential to anyone with an interest in this complex and fascinating icon of twentieth-century England.' (Dr Kevin J. Gardner, Baylor University) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stephen Games writes about architecture and language. He was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge, made documentaries for BBC Radio 3 and was the first arts correspondent of The Independent. His architectural reviews for The Guardian earned him a British Press Award. He has written for the Los Angeles Times and been deputy editor of the RIBA Journal. He has edited two previous books of BBC radio talks: John Betjeman's Trains and Buttered Toast (pub. John Murray, 2006) and Nikolaus Pevsner's Pevsner on Art and Architecture (pub. Methuen, 2001). He is also writing Nikolaus Pevsner's biography. Stephen Games lives in London with his wife and child.

 


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Miss Sparrow on 22 Oct 2007
Format: Hardcover
Betjeman couldn't decide if he was a religious man or not. From his student days onwards he was always a member of the Church of England; he was also active on various parish councils, but he was constantly assailed by his own rationalism. What bothered him most was the question of what might happen to him after he died: it was an ugly choice - annihilation or hell.

In this amazing book, composed of almost 30 radio talks that he gave towards the end of his life, Betjeman finally found a way to come terms with the Church - by exploring it through the medium that he felt closest to: poetry - or, more exactly, the religious poetry of the hymn.

How did hymns come to be written? Who wrote them? What do they mean for the Christian faith? Over the course of three years, Betjeman looked at 200 of the nation's favourite hymns, which he arranged into 28 groupings, to show how words - and the music that goes with them - reaches and answers a need in the human soul in a way that nothing else can.

Hymns were written - over four centuries - by individuals who not only had nothing in common but might have been sectarian enemies. And yet the hymns they left behind sit beautifully together in the Church's many hymnals - testimony to the fact that beyond our personal struggles and enmities, there is a beauty and a unity that will not be suppressed by human failings.

This, as Stephen Games shows in his stunning introduction, is what Betjeman discovered while working on these scripts and what helped him come to terms with faith at the very darkest period in his life.

"Sweet Songs of Zion" is a fabulous book - and one made up of material that, until its publication, was still unheard of among Betjeman lovers and scholars alike.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. J. S. Mcgrace on 1 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback
i bought this book as a present for my dad, a baptist pastor.

i skim-read it before giving it, and found it fascinating ;and as you would expect- very well 'written'.

my dad also got straight into it, and delighted to find some real gems- little known, but wonderful hymns by such famous hymn writers as isaac watts.

i'm going to have trouble getting it back- to complete my reading of it!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. G. Strand on 1 July 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a compliation of John Betjeman's 'swan song' radio talk series.Concentrating upon a single topic,the hymn, he produces a 'sweet sound' in the reader's ear with his wide ranging review ,and adds another arrow to his multi-talented quiver.It aptly demonstrates why Betjeman thought the hymn was 'the nearest thing to English folk music ' and ably supports his theory that 'hymns are the poetry of the people'.Complete with an interesting introduction from the editor Stephen Games, which sets the context for the talks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By REVD W B BEER on 13 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fine anthology of traditional hymnography. Betjeman at his best. Suitable for all who love sound hymns of the more traditonal and unsentimental variety.
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